At MiQuando we’re on the lookout for some special to help us grow our online booking & marketing business.

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Business Development Star

We’re looking for someone totally #BOOKINGAMAZING, who will be out and about, actively generating new contacts, sales and opportunities.  You’ll dedicate yourself to …

Identifying new sales leads – Following up new business opportunities – setting up meetings – Presenting features and benefits – Sharing new product developments – Developing working relationship – Identifying new market / product opportunities – Developing marketing literature – Providing feedback – Plus some other stuff too

 

Is this the role for you?

We need someone who is outgoing, friendly, assured and self-confident; that simply loves networking, meeting and presenting to people, both 1-2-1 and to wider audiences.  It also helps if you can demonstrate…

Good business sense – Passion for success – Exceptional communication skills- A positive outlook – Sound understanding of marketing principles – Plenty of initiative – Solid negotiation skills– Your sense of fun – Some dress sense

Other good stuff we need!

As an e-business, technology underpins our core offerings, including our innovative local business directory and advertising services and our popular multi sector / multi-platform online booking services.   As such, you will be…

Comfortable using current technology – Able to communicate technical features in simple language – Familiar with technology terms, trends and developments – Able to contribute to the development of new products and services

 

What’s in it for you!

The right person can expect to be rewarded with not just an attractive remuneration package comprising salary, commission scheme, bonus scheme and company car, but also the pleasure of working with a great set of people.  It’s still early days in the MiQuando journey, and the opportunity is there to grow the role and responsibilities in line with our own exciting growth plans and ambitions.

If this makes your toes tingle, send us an email to Business Development Role making sure you tell us why you think this is right up your street and don’t forget to attach a copy of your latest CV.

 

#bookingamazing

 

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5 Years ago, the answer would probably have been “yes, you should”, but the world has moved on, and there’s a good chance your customers have moved with it. Personally, I just don’t bother – the one that’s delivered each year to my home goes straight into the recycling.

OK, so I am what you might call “tech savvy” and am pretty much always connected to the internet no matter where I am, and always at home and work (where a phone book would be!), so I don’t have a use for the phone book or yellow pages.   It’s worth noting that I’m also over 50 and supposedly part of the age group that still uses it.

Today, most marketers will be promoting ‘online’ as a mainstay of any promotional or marketing campaign especially as an affordable way to reach your audience, but quite rightly there is always the more traditional media to consider (radio, TV, direct mail, newspapers/magazines, flyers, and of course, the printed phone book or yellow pages) too.

It struck me that with so many of these printed directories lying around gathering dust, it should be a fairly easy exercise to ‘measure’ its enduring popularity, or lack thereof.  The first attempt is hardly scientific, but takes a matter of seconds and reinforces my suspicion that the fewer people are advertising in them.  How?  Simple, line them up in date order and they are visibly slimmer as the years go by.

As I said, not very scientific!  So I thought I’d better actually look a bit closer, after all what else is there do on a Monday evening when storm ‘Henry’ is passing close by.  Anyway, first thing is to confirm that the paper and print sizes haven’t changed a jot, so it can only be the content.  The only things that really take up space are the paid for adverts, so if there are fewer pages each year, this can only be as a result of fewer and smaller adverts.  There are also a lot more ‘filler’ ads from the publishers taking up space too.

Take a look at what I found…

chart - shrinking phone booksGraph shows increase in publisher own ads in phone book

 

 

 

 

 

The number of pages in the business section of the Isle of Man phone directory as shrunk  by over 30% in 5 years.   If that trend carries on, it will be down to around jut 100 pages by the year 2020.

When we also factor in the fact that there are an increasing number ‘filler’ ads placed by publishers themselves then picture is even less rosy.

So, now we have done a little more research and looking at things with some hard data and facts to substantiate what we first thought, it is fair to say that the phone book or yellow pages type business section is falling out of favour with advertisers fairly rapidly.

So whilst each business must look at their own demographic and measure the response from previous phone book ads (if you can), here’s a little bit more information to help you evaluate or negotiate when you next get ‘the knock’ from ‘the phone book people’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We have just released our Summer 2014 update for MiQuando.com, introducing 2 fantastic new major features and over 10 enhancements, all aimed at helping you grow your business online.

 2 Brand New Features

 FREE PR Tool (to help build your brand and reputation)

The Image of shouting girlnew Free PR tool is a simple and effective way for you to communicate your news and announcements to a local audience, and best of all, as the name suggests, it is completely free to use.  You can discover more here:  How it works or PDF Brochure

 Files & Documents (to help convert more customers) 

File and documents types to uploadYou can now add files / documents to your MiQuando profile, which means you can share much more information with prospects and customers online.  Upload PDF documents or add links to your menu or even your own video.  How it works or PDF Brochure

General Enhancements & Upgrades

  • Added options to help refine Search results
  • Improved calendar look and feel with new colour schemes
  • Added Directions to maps
  • New ‘role based’ user management to set user security profiles
  • Option to upgrade a Customer account to a Business account
  • Real time help/chat facility

Online Booking Enhancements & Upgrades

  • Added the option so set minimum ‘Advance Notice’ periods
  • Option to include multiple recipients on Booking email/SMS messages
  • New opt in/out feature for guest bookings for more customer communication opportunities
  • Daily automated reminders for unactioned booking requests
  • Automatic ‘closing’ of bookings and optional automated feedback requests

We continue to develop great new features all designed to help businesses compete and grow online.  Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with more exciting developments as we continue working to help our customers build an amazing online presence. 

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 Some buzzwords for online shoppingIrritating buzzwords to explain the fact that people shop online a lot in 2014?

Yes, they might be annoying phrases, but their real message is that people do more than simply use a computer when they shop online.

And that’s something that every business needs to consider carefully.

Today it wouldn’t be uncommon for someone to click an online advert, get an offer via email or see something on social media that tickles the part of their brain that says “I like that / I want one of those”. 47% of consumers start their purchase journey on mobile.  (Google/Ipsos)

  • They might do a bit of In-store browsing on the high street, outlet village or shopping mall if it’s convenient or perhaps use their mobile to do a little research on their mobile, or seek opinions on this amazing thing you found via social media.
  • Go online later that day on their tablet or PC to do price comparisons and check customer reviews of product and seller, and maybe go on to make that purchase online from the comfort and convenience of the sofa.
  • Let friends know about the latest bargain with a little social media update from a smartphone.
  • Purchases are delivered swiftly to the door, or ready to collect in-store the following day.
  • Delighted with an online bargain, it’s time to share the overall experience and let fellow shoppers benefit from shared knowledge by leaving ratings and reviews using a tablet.
  • Finally get the smartphone out and post a ‘selfie’ with the new purchases!

Or maybe a completely different combination, but you get the point that the way people buy things has changed and will continue to change.  51% shop online while on two or more screens simultaneously.  (Microsoft)

 

Devices used for online shoppingBig businesses are spending huge sums of money trying to capture these online shoppers, on different platforms and devices, something that is just not feasible for small and micro businesses, but that doesn’t mean they should just roll over and die.

Small and micro business owners need to take the time to understand how customers buy in 2014 and look to take advantage by enabling as many ways as possible for customers to interact with them.

There are any numbers of low/no cost ways small / micro business can adapt and get a slice of this online business.  A good website need not be expensive,  social media accounts are free and help engage with customers, free entries in online directory listings help people find you online, whilst adding ratings & reviews, a shopping cart and online appointment booking can easily be done on a small budget, by adding and integrating 3rd party components.

Customer journey for online shoppers

Figure 1 How customers buy in 2014

Businesses can sign up for a free, search engine friendly local directory listing by visiting www.miquando.com and clicking the Add Your Business link (top right).

Not only do businesses get perhaps the most comprehensive entry available of any local business directory, completely free, they can take advantage of these additional fantastic opportunities:

  • Use highly targeted internet advertising to attract new business
  • Gain new customers via the built in direct mail facilities
  • Build an online reputation by adding the independent ratings and reviews to your own website, quickly and easily and 100% free
  • Offer online appointment booking to your customers via Miquando, your own website, direct maillings and even your social media pages
  • And more great new free and low cost features being added each quarter
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Begging for Facebook Likes

Begging for Facebook LikesI’m sure you will have experienced the same irritating increase in posts from ‘friends’ on Facebook ‘liking’ XYZ company just because they are giving away some great prize (well, might be!).

 I can’t be the only Facebook user ‘Un-friending’ people that regularly ‘like & share’ these pages and simultaneously turning my back on these businesses too.

Maybe this is just me, but all this liking and sharing smacks of desperation from both ‘liker’ and ‘likee’ if there are such things!

iOS 7 Illegal Facebook like and share contestYou can maybe understand the person, who attracted by the chance of winning something but come on folks open your eyes.  Surely you can see that most of these are just nonsense where no prize actually exists.  For those that do come from ‘real’ businesses, you should be aware that there are no ‘competition rules’ so they can do what they want.  Either way, you are generally being made to look like a mug when you ‘like and share’ to win.

According to Facebook this kind of behaviour is against their guidelines (read more) which state you cannot:

  • Post a message on your wall and call it a contest/competition
  • Make liking your page an automatic entry to a contest.

Facebook is in danger of being swamped with desperate businesses ‘begging for likes’ and users apparently desperate to win something perpetuating these annoying and often outdated posts.

OK, so times are tough, but surely I am not alone in disconnecting myself from people I thought had more sense and businesses using this tactic.  In my opinion both parties are simply eroding their reputation by participating.

Facebook must either take action against business that are clearly operating in breach of its guidelines or risk losing the ability to connect and communicate with sensible people.

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MiQuando Facebook Icon

MiQuando Facebook IconWe see a number of small/micro businesses registering on MiQuando.com with a Facebook Page as their website address.  Trouble is, most of them are still just the horrible default name.

Your default Facebook URL is a randomly generated number that identifies your page to Facebook.  It’s dull, meaningless, has no link to your business and is not very searchable e.g.

 https://www.facebook.com/profile.phd?id=47825911x

If you didn’t know you could change your Facebook Page name (or haven’t bothered to) then you are missing out on a simple, quick and free marketing opportunity.

Personalising your Page Name/URL makes it far easier for people to find your business, brand or company Facebook presence.

What’s more, you can then use your new meaningful Facebook Page name in your marketing material, website and business cards e.g.

 https://www.facebook.com/FindItClickItBookIt

It’s a simple change to make and Facebook provides step by step instructions here https://www.facebook.com/help/409473442437047/.

Oh, and don’t forget to update your details on MiQuando™

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Thousands of small/micro businesses are running contests that break Facebook’s rules on a daily basis.  Anyone that thinks they can run their business and promotions on Facebook with a total disregard for Facebook’s rules might be in for a shock.

Ignorance or laziness will be a poor excuse when you have to start from scratch with your Facebook Page simply because you or someone else couldn’t be bothered to acquaint themselves with Facebook’s guidelines.

In simple terms you cannot:

  • Post a message on your wall and call it a contest/competition
  • Make liking your page an automatic entry to a contest.

When a ‘friend’ ‘likes’ a page for a contest, it’s pretty annoying to everyone who sees this too.  It won’t be long until someone is going to report your contest/competition as spam.

And the consequences are likely to be any of the following

  • Your contest gets shut down
  • Your Page gets banned
  • Your Page is deleted

 Not sure what the rules are then you can read Facebook’s guidelines here (click and scroll down to Promotions section).

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Chart showing % UK Internet users by age (source ONS Q4 2012)

Why Online Presence is essential for Businesses

With more people working and more distractions life just seems more hectic than ever.  Have you ever stopped to think quite how this affects the way we do business?

Clearly, fewer and fewer people are visiting the high streets of towns and cities across the country and more and more are finding the convenience of internet shopping (whether buying or browsing & comparing) a much more convenient fit into their increasingly hectic lives.

So any business that does not have some form of online channel that provides a way for customers to research, compare and buy, both products and services 24 hours a day 7 days a week, is excluding the 21st century customer!

Even if you think there is no value to your business in doing anything online, just take a moment to explore some numbers from the Office of National Statistics (Q4 2012) which tells us that 85% of Britain’s adult population is now using the Internet.

Chart showing % UK Internet users by age (source ONS Q4 2012)

And also fairly evenly split between male and female users

Image Showing Internet Users in UK by Sex

10 Tips to promoting your business online?

1. Get a Basic Web Site

A reported 60% of small businesses don’t have any sort of online presence at all!  There’s plenty of cheap self build options e.g. 1 & 1, but if you don’t fancy that a basic web site should cost less than £500.

2. Make your web site SEO friendly

Make sure your web pages have decent Page Titles, Meta Descriptions and Meta Keywords.  Check out this Blog article to see an example.

3. Register on a few valuable Business Directories

If you already have a listing on MiQuando ® – so far so good.  If not, why not?  It’s FREE, go and do it now by clicking here.

Make sure your details are kept up to date, your business description and keywords are accurate and we’ll build your very own Search Engine Optimised (SEO) page to help promote your business online for FREE.

4. Make Use of Social Media

Setup social media accounts for your business.  It’s completely free to register a FaceBook Page, a Linkedin business page and a Twitter Account.  Publish these on your contacts page and search engines will be able to link your accounts and content published on them.

5. Update your content frequently

Search engines love relevant content, so be sure to update your web site, post on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to make sure the search engines can see new content and maintain visibility in search results for your business.

6. Add a Blog to your website

Another opportunity to add great relevant content.  First, more content means more authority which in turn means better search engine ranking. Check out this article from Swellpath for a more detailed explanation of why.

7.  Get Interactive

OK, so people can send you an email or give you a call, but you can get much more.  Make a simple web page that lets people register for a newsletter or opt in to email updates, gives you the opportunity to interact with existing and potential customers.  A quick and easy one to do too.

8. Let customers do more

Today on MiQuando.com you can sell and take payments online for services with our fully integrated Online Booking Calendar service.  No technical knowledge is required, simply enter your Service and Resource details and you can be up and running in less than 1 hour.

9.  Link it all together

You now have a solid online presence; whereby customers can not just find you online, but interact and even book services with you online.  It’s important to link it all together, so at MiQuando® we have made it easy for you by creating pre built links you can use to direct people to your Online Booking service from your website, a tweet, a Facebook or LinkedIn post or any other web site.  Just copy and paste the links from your MiQuando® account and you’re good to go.

10. Get some Word of Mouth Online

Every business knows a customer referral or recommendation is the best marketing tool in the world.  MiQuando.com will shortly be offering a full ratings and reviews service, free for every business and we even show you how to link it into your own web site.

 

Good luck and we’d love to hear your suggestions on how we can keep on improving MiQuando.com.

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1.       List your business FREE on MiQuando®

When you create your FREE listing on MiQuando® we create a page for your business that is extremely SEO friendly so basically we help new customers find your business online.

Your 100% free listing gives you all of the following:

Business Name Description Street Address
Phone / Fax Numbers Email Address Web Site Address
List in up to 3 Categories Opening Hours Price List
Mini Logo Online Diary / Calendar Online Booking
Add Keywords Updates 24hrs a day  

2.       Make sure your web site pages have metadata for each page, perhaps something like the below examples

Page Title to read {Description} | {Page Topic} | Company Name’

e.g. Autographed Pictures and Memorabilia| Isle of Man TT Races | Extreme Arts Gadgets

Meta Description to read  ‘Buy {description} of {topic} | {Person/Subject}

 e.g.Buy Autographed Pictures and Memorabilia of Isle of Man TT Races | Shop online

Meta Keywords to read keywords about the items for sale

e.g.                Adrian Archibald, Bruce Anstey, Cameron Donald, Conor Cummins, David Jefferies,Gary Johnson,Geoff Duke,Giacomo Agostini,Guy Martin,Ian Hutchinson,Ian Lougher,Jim Redman,Joey Dunlop,John McGuinness,,Michael Dunlop,Mick Grant,Milky Quayle, Phil Read, William Dunlop, TT Programmes, signed TT Photos

3.       Update your page content regularly

Ensure you are adding new content and removing old content on a regular basis (e.g. Weekly).

4.       Add your Social Media contacts to your web site

Include links to your facebook page and twitter account on your web site’s contact page so they are all recognised as being from one entity.

5.       Consider Adding a Blog to your site

Most people have plenty to say whether it be a gentle rant, observation, opinion on recent news, details of a recent business trip or updates on a new deal, you can create decent and regular content to share.

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OK, so the brilliantly funny prime time TV ad or the smash hit YouTube video that goes viral worldwide might be, but in reality will your small local business achieve either – probably not.

A great small business advert is one that:

Ø  Is seen (or heard) by just the right people

Ø  At just the right time

Ø  Is believed

Ø  And acted upon

Ø  Without costing a fortune

So when you place your advert, think carefully about those points above to determine whether you are really going to get the best return on the money you spend.

Let’s try and look at the most popular advertising methods used by local businesses and see how they fit.

Telephone Book

For nearly 50 years the phone book or yellow pages was seen in households everywhere, it was seen by local people and was a staple of local advertising.  It was also quite good at being seen at the right time when people were looking in categories e.g. plumbers and being in the phone book gave some credibility that your company was real.  It was also good in that people acted on the adverts as they were actively looking for similar products/services

Today print directories are very much in decline.  It is widely reported that as many as 50% are left unopened and almost 90% of 16-24 year olds have never used one.  Simply put, print directories are a product of a bygone age and for most people have been superseded by Internet based directories.

Verdict – Dying a slow and painful death

 Local Papers

Another staple for local advertising is the local newspaper, either a free paper or subscription version.  Generally distributed early morning or late afternoon/evening local papers are seen by local people and offer good local distribution with fairly wide audience for your advert. 

So we know our advert is seen by people in the right geographic area.  Not necessarily the right people, we’re just hoping there are some readers who will be interested.  If you pay for a large colour advert, then you stand a better chance of being believed (because you spent a lot of money!) but in the classifieds what separates the genuine from the dodgy chancers in all that clutter?   As for getting people at the right time; people like to read their papers when they land on the doormat.  This is generally when your business is closed, so how can they act on your advert?

Verdict – Shrinking circulation and ticks few boxes

 Local Magazines

Another widely used local advertising medium are the local magazines.  Usually distributed free either to businesses or homes and again seen by local people and offer good local distribution with a fairly wide audience for your advert. 

 Usually claiming to go to every household in XYZ area far too many end up discarded by a lazy delivery agent or filed straight into the bin.  Still our advert is seen by people in the right geographic area but again not necessarily the right people.  Having spent at least a few hundred pounds for a visible advert you would hope you earn some credibility.  If it gets read at all, it’s most likely to be in the evening, again when most people are closed so their ability to act on your advert is very limited.

Verdict – You spend too much for your ad to be binned

 Online Business Directories

A great way to get free local advertising with a basic listing.  Almost completely replacing the dying print directories as a way of finding local businesses, these are becoming a much more popular way of advertising.  If you want your listing to be more visible, with full contact details, you can pay to have an enhanced listing.  If you want to be shown at the top of the pile, again you can pay for that which saves you naming your business after the Aardvark!  Just like the old print directories, people are searching for local businesses and services so your business or adverts are being seen by the right people at the right time.  With an enhanced listing people can act too, by emailing you or visiting your website.

Online directories are basically a much improved version of the old print directory and fast becoming a favourite for local advertising as they tick most of the boxes.  Unfortunately this is only the case if you are paying.  In most cases, to really get your business noticed, you will need not only an enhanced listing (~£400 p/a plus) but also a top 3 listing (~ £700 p/a plus) and maybe be listed in multiple categories (~£200 p/a each).

Verdict – Very expensive with the ‘old guard’ try finding new, more competitive options

 Local Websites

With more and more advertising spent going online, popular local websites provide another alternative to print based advertising.  Often visited by thousands of people each month they represent a good way to get your brand in front of a wide audience.

Is this audience the ‘right people’?  Probably not, they are usually visiting these local sites to read the news, see what the local weather has in store or maybe check their email.  Even though they’re not just the right people, you pay a premium because there are lots of them, often £4,000 plus for a year.  Are they seeing your advert at just the right time?  Probably not – your lucky if they see it all, after all they didn’t go there to buy anything.  If the local site has a good reputation then some of that might rub off on your ad, possibly helping believability, plus they can usually ‘act’ by clicking your ad and going to your website. 

Verdict – You’re paying too much for irrelevant visitors checking the local news & gossip

 Facebook Ads

Increasingly popular with local businesses, Facebook has the advantage of millions of users and claim to offer highly targeted advertising opportunities with various demographic options available.  Fairly straightforward to use and not overly expensive, you can get your ad up quickly and in front of plenty of local people.

One of the best ways to get your name in front of people for limited cost.  Again though, the issue is that people are generally going to Facebook not to look for businesses, services or products, to catch up on what others are doing and to have a chat with ‘friends’.  The targeting, whilst better than most others mentioned above, is somewhat wasted.  Take a look at your own Facebook page and see for yourself how relevant or effective those ads are for you.  Is your Facebook Ad believable?  The jury is still out on that one due largely to Facebooks own admission that it has over 83 million fake accounts, over 14 million of which Facebook itself classifies as ‘undesirable’!  Finally, can they act on your Ad?  Yes, In a couple of ways. Users can either click to go to your web page or maybe give you a ‘Like’, which whilst good for your ego, doesn’t really boost your bottom line.

Verdict – OK for brand awareness, not as cheap as you think

 Others

Of course there are lots of other options available, but those mentioned above are the ones we are told most businesses use.  Next on the list is local radio, followed by outdoor options such as billboards, bus stops, empty shop windows which provide static displays, whilst buses, taxis or car wraps offer mobile options.  There is also sponsorship of local events or sports teams.  All of these offer brand awareness to varying degrees but don’t really tick the boxes for a great small business advert.

Verdict – OK for brand awareness

 Summary

So whilst each of those advertising options mentioned above tick some of the boxes some of the time, there doesn’t really seem to be anything out there that does everything a small local business needs from it’s advertising at an genuinely affordable price.

Well that situation has now changed with the launch of MiQuando.com, which offers a perfect blend of advertising opportunities to suit all businesses advertising needs.  If you’re not sure, start off with the 100% FREE directory listing where you get all those extra bits that let people find and contact you more easily.  You know those details such as email and web addresses that you normally have to pay at least £400 a year for; well they’re all included in your FREE listing.  If you want to know simply visit the website www.miquando.com

 If you want to get noticed, then you can get yourself a Top 3 spot guaranteed for just £4.25 p/w.  That’s about 200% less than most other similar directories with no long term commitment or annual contract.

If you want a more high profile ad with clickable images, then you have the option of a Banner ad in the top right of the screen or the smaller Sidebar ads on the right hand side.  Each of which comes with two options, either take the ad for your local region as a whole, or be more targeted and show your ad only to those people searching for similar businesses/products/services to your own. 

Each of these ads can be linked to any webpage you choose or even to our built in online booking service if that works better for your business so they can be acted upon 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Even better news is the pricing.  On average similar ads will cost you anything from 200% to 500% LESS on MiQuando.com, yet none of them tick all the boxes like MiQuando®.

A quick check of where we started here and we can see that a great small business advert is a MiQuando advert that:

Ø  Is seen (or heard) by just the right people

Ø  At just the right time

Ø  Is believed

Ø  And acted upon

Ø  Without costing a fortune

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